Conflict & Justice

Pedro Pimentel Rios, former Guatemalan soldier, gets 6,060-year prison sentence


A young man stands by graffiti depicting people who disappeared during the 1960-1996 civil war, during the celebration of the Army Day in Guatemala City.


Johan Ordonez

Pedro Pimentel Rios, a former member of an elite Guatemalan military force, was sentenced to 6,060 years in prison for the killing of over 200 people in a 1982 massacre, CNN International reported

Guatemala's First Court's sentencing is largely symbolic, since the maximum prison sentence in the country is 50 years, Agence France Presse reported. The court gave Rios 30 years in prison for each person killed, and an additional 30 years for committing crimes against humanity, AFP reported. 

Rios is the fifth ex-special forces soldier sentenced to 6,000 years or more for his role in the atrocities committed in the town of Dos Erres during Guatemala's civil war, which raged from 1960 to 1996, the Associated Press reported. Last year, four other former soldiers — Carlos Antonio Carias Lopez, Reyes Collin Guali, Daniel Martinez Mendez and Manuel Pop Sun — also received 6,000-year prison sentences for the same crimes.

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The massacre at Dos Erres was carried out by the Kaibiles, a special unit in the army, who stormed the village to root out villagers who they believed were sheltering left-wing guerrillas, BBC News reported. The soldiers shot or bludgeoned hundreds of men, women and children to death over the course of three days, disposing bodies down a well, according to BBC.

The massacre came to be known as one of the most violent attacks in Guatemala's 36-year conflict, which claimed about 200,000 lives, according to the BBC. In 1994, Guatemala's government opened an investigation into the killings, during which 162 skeletons were unearthed, the AP reported. 

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Rios lived in Santa Ana, California, where he worked in a sweater factory until he was detained by immigration authorities in May 2010. He was extradited to Guatemala in July 2011, the AP reported. 

Twelve other Kaibiles soldiers who took part in the killings are still in hiding, according to AFP.